Friday, April 24, 2015

Japanese Etiquette and Lollipops

Eating on sidewalks, or while walking down a street, has long been considered bad manners in Japan, as well as in many other countries. 

"Bad Form for Japanese Children to Eat Sweets on the Streets of Seattle"

Seattle Washington, December 25, 1906-
"While agitation is in progress on the question of Japanese attending American schools a sidelight thrown on the decorum demanded of Japanese schoolchildren at home is interesting. The Minister of Education, Mr. Makino, according to Tokio advices, has just issued private instructions to Governors of prefectures concerning the behavior of school children on the streets. 
The Minister says: 'Boys and girls are to be seen eating sweets and fruits on their journeys to and from school. This habit is to be condemned at once as very bad manners. This highly reprehensible contact tends to impair the youthful character and the social manners and education are likewise affected. I urge upon you therefore, to take stringent measures to put a stop to this evil.'"

In 1906, for five months, all “Oriental” children, based on their parentage and not their origin of birth, were ordered by the Board of Education to be pulled out of their schools and be segregated into “Oriental” schools. The parents of these children, first generation Japanese immigrants known as the Issei, fought adamantly for their reintegration into public schools. Their argument was, “The Nisei never could be expected to be good Americans if they were not permitted to associate freely with Americans of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, and if they were to be segregated on the basis of race.” The parents wanted to spare their children from experiencing the prejudices that were forced upon them. In successfully overturning the order of school segregation, the first generation Issei encouraged their children to make the most of the opportunities that they never had. The Issei felt their children were the “pioneer generation,” who must “carry on the proud heritage of our forefathers to make contributions to American life.” Source~ Seattle Dept. of Education

In Seattle, a large "Japantown" flourished at the south end of downtown in the early 1900s. A wide variety of small businesses served the growing population of Japanese immigrants and their descendants.

Early immigrants arrived in Washington state from Japan, just before the turn of the 20th century. They came to work on railroads, in sawmills and canneries. They endured discrimination in immigration, employment, and housing, as they did not blend in as easily as European immigrants that had arrived for similar reasons. Some turned to farming, converting land covered with marshes and tree stumps into productive cropland. Hardships notwithstanding, they raised families, ran businesses, eked out livings and developed a vibrant community life.

Despite their segregation, Japanese residents became fully involved in American life and in their newspaper, "The Japanese-American Courier" they encouraged individual conduct and behavior that reflected well on the Japanese immigrant community as a whole. They formed churches, attended area schools and colleges, joined grpups such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, played popular American sports, and enjoyed much of the music and movies of the day. Source ~ 
Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

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